The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

By Rick Nelson
Wah. Co. Eagle 

Waste water plant issues occupy council


September 20, 2012

Business concerning construction of Cathlamet's new waste water treatment plant kept members of the Cathlamet Town Council busy on Monday.

The council started off its meeting with a tour of the plant site. Engineer Ken Alexander of Gray and Osborne, Inc. explained the process the new plant will use to treat sewage. The plant is scheduled to come on line in December 2013 at a cost estimated around $7.4 million.

The plant will be controlled from an onsite office; operations will be highly automated. Alexander presented a proposed contract for Gray and Osborne to write the computer code that will control operations and communicate with the operators when they're off site.

The firm has written the computer program for other plants, he said, and the coding would be open, not proprietary, so that anyone could modify it as necessary. Cost of the programming and a one year maintenance package is $152,000, which was included in the project cost.

The council voted to accept the proposal.

The council also approved several change orders for the project totaling $38,000.

Also at Alexander's recommendation, the council voted to apply for an additional loan of $650,000 from the US Department of Agriculture to cover contingencies. The council had budgeted $60,000 for contingencies, but Alexander said a realistic figure would be 5 percent of the project, $400,000.

Councilmember Wally Wright reminded the council that the town has timber that could be harvested to help pay for plant construction.

In other business, Mayor George Wehrfritz reported the Washington Department of Transportation has proposed closing one of Main Street's crosswalks. Main Street is part of SR 409.

The crosswalk in question runs between Bank of America and the Cathlamet Pharmacy parking lot.

Interim Public Works Superintendent Kevin Patching reported that WSDOT officials told him that underused crosswalks, less than 60 pedestrians per hour, are a hazard, for traffic doesn't recognize them as safety zones.

"They say its actually safer to look both ways and walk," Patching said.

"It seems to me they're shifting liability to the town," commented former town attorney Fred Johnson.

Wehrfritz said town officials don't favor the suggestion; there will be more discussion with WSDOT.

Alexander and council members also discussed the intake for the town's water plant on the Elochoman River.

Wehrfritz and Patching reported running tests that showed that the plant is capable of drawing 600,000 gallons per day when there are no shutdowns. Consumption in the summer can easily go over 500,000 gallons, so the plant is near capacity, Wehrfritz said.

"We can go over what the plant will produce," he said.

Alexander reviewed a water plan created in 2003 that identified possible means of expanding the capacity.

"Gray and Osborne only just became aware of the recent finding that you can't pump enough," he said. The firm could revisit the plan and put a proposal together, he said.


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